This Is Not an Economic Crisis

Published September 29, 2008

I was electrified yesterday when it became obvious that Americans had gotten off their fat-cat seats to actually call their congressmen to protest this totally un-American giveaway.

This is a defining moment in American history, a rerun of the takeover effected by FDR and now playing out with disastrous consequences for liberty. I call it fascism, not Hitlerian fascism, but nonetheless fascism as defined as controlling the economy without taking ownership of the means of production as in socialism.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the ordinary course of events is for government to gain ground and liberty to lose ground. Our forefathers left Europe to this land of opportunity and now we have slipped into copycats of modern European governance. Shame on us.

In my lifetime, I have seen government enter into almost every phase of our economy. We beat Hillary-care but not for long and, by accepting this bailout, we are effectively giving up our wonderful free enterprise to the government. If you don’t think so, I remind you that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Do I exaggerate? Well, the government already determines what we can or cannot take into our own bodies, has virtually nationalized health care, educates our children into accepting their ways, defines what we can say, has created a tyrannical Congress by its incumbent protection acts, has politicized the courts so there is no recourse to their profligacy, has totally undermined the criminal court system–and now we want to hand over to them our wildly successful FREE enterprise system?

No, we’re talking far more than curing a potential recession; we’re talking about preserving America as the greatest and most successful experiment in freedom that humankind has ever experienced. We are bogged down trying to understand derivatives, swaps, and other arcane minutia of modern capitalism while overlooking what is really happening. This is the final takeover of America.

This is not an economic crisis. We are not in a recession. This is simply government trying to reward its friends by seeing they don’t get hurt. It also is a grand intent to deflect blame, particularly before the election, to greedy speculators instead of foolish policies.

No matter what policies are taken, including nothing, this crisis will pass, either with short-term pain, if we are lucky, or with long-term pain similar to the great depression if we let government have its way. But pain is unavoidable. I am willing to take almost any kind of pain to take back my America.

That’s what is at stake here, not just the avoidance of some hard times. The government wants to blame and demonize businessmen and call into question their credibility. I’m disgusted with the actions of some of my fellow businessmen and hope they get punished for their deeds; but I want to embarrass government, create doubt about its effectiveness in areas they have taken over and educate–particularly our youth–about the sad decline in our ideals of liberty. There is a golden opportunity to do that right now.

We Americans are so lucky. We have not had to endure the real pain East Europeans had to endure to throw off the yoke of communism. They had to take to the streets and risk their lives. We just need to call our congressmen. The most recent example is the young Venezuelan who got Cato’s Friedman prize because he was willing to put himself in harm’s way and got his head knocked around several times in his efforts.

If our fellow citizens can resist this bailout and let the market prove its marvelous, remedial ways, maybe there is still a chance for America. Yes, I think it is that important. We didn’t get here overnight. And now we have the dénouement of power gone unchecked too long. It’s way late in the game but rescue is still possible. It won’t be once they take charge of the economy.

David H. Padden is founder and chairman emeritus of The Heartland Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Chicago.